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Templeton Scholars

Templeton Scholars junior class, (L-R): Group adviser Stephanie Sanders, Chris Born, Ugonna Okpalaoka, Max Rodriguez, Nate Boyer, Jermain Onye, Awele Nwajei, Stephanie Del Rosal, Eric White. Brittany Oliver and Eudora Peterson are not pictured.

Photographer: George Mauzy

Jesse-Raney and Awele-Nwajei

Jesse Raney, a member of the first class of Templeton Scholars, chats with Awele Nwajei after the presentation

Photographer: George Mauzy

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Templeton Scholars discuss poverty in Athens, awareness among students

Ohio University's Templeton Scholars discussed poverty during their annual junior year research project on Thursday.

Their presentation, which is titled, "Unlocking the Face of Poverty in Athens County," examined the numerous dimensions of poverty that exist in Athens County and how Ohio University students are connected to it. The students hoped to redefine poverty for students as well as raise awareness to the problems that exist in Athens County.

"Athens County is one of the poorest counties in the nation," said Eric White, a junior studying broadcast journalism. "Compared to the national average, the unemployment rate is the same, but the income level disparity is almost double."

Students examined poverty from three different perspectives: income, housing and education.

"We realized being homeless doesn't necessarily mean living on the street, but rather in substandard housing or in trailer parks," said Max Rodriguez, a junior studying video production. "They can even have jobs, but their income isn't enough to support their requirements."

Students even discussed the flaws in the education system, calling attention to the fact that the United States Supreme Court has declared Ohio's school funding system unconstitutional on various occasions.

"The years of primary and secondary education can shape the life of these children," said Stephanie Del Rosal, a junior studying communication. "Our math scores on the OGT are the sixth lowest in the state, but graduation rates are one of the highest. This discrepancy leaves the kids at a disadvantage later in life."

Students then related their research to awareness of the issue among the student population.

"Almost 25 percent of the student population at Ohio University believes people in poverty have the same opportunities as people at the college level do," said Jermain Onye, a junior studying mechanical engineering. "It was shocking."

Chris Born, a junior computer science major, also shared his thoughts.

"The symptoms of poverty include the inability to rise from one's current societal status due to the lack of opportunities," Born said. "We could make a difference, we have the resources, but we need a movement; a collaboration from students, as well as organizations."

Students then presented the audience with various organizations that students could get involved with on Ohio University's campus, such as the Athens Habitat for Humanity, Good Works, United Campus Ministries and Appalachian Community Hospice.

"If nothing else, it's important to be educated on the issue and educate others," said Eudora Peterson, a junior studying broadcast journalism. "We need to have an ongoing commitment with some of these organizations so we can truly make a difference."

The Templeton Scholars Program provides valuable educational opportunities designed to enrich the intellectual experiences of talented students from disproportionately represented populations. The program promotes personal, social, cultural, and academic excellence as well as professional development.

To read the Templeton Scholars' presentation, click here.